What are the implications of protecting agricultural land?

There are many positive implications to protecting agricultural land.

  • Transportation costs, both economic and environmental, are reduced when agricultural products are produced near markets.
  • Produce is fresher when it reaches the consumer.
  • A secure food supply is maintained.
  • Agriculturally related leisure pursuits for the urban population can be offered within a reasonable distance of urban areas.
  • Agricultural lands provide green space and natural landscape.
  • Crops remove carbon monoxide from the air.
  • Prohibiting urban growth on green fields encourages development of brownfields.
  • Application of biosolids to farmland can benefit society by providing an economic way of disposing of urban waste while providing the farmer with inexpensive nutrients. (However, the debate over biosolids is increasingly heated. Controls must be transparent and comprehensive so the public has confidence in the science used to measure and mitigate risk.)

There are also negative implications of protecting agricultural land:

  • By protecting specific significant agricultural lands, new urban development is diverted to other locations, which may not be contiguous to existing urban areas.
  • If servicing infrastructure exists in prime areas, restricting development may not allow optimal use of the infrastructure, unless it can be adapted to agricultural needs.
  • Some municipalities may be restricted in the extent of new urban development that can occur if there is significant agricultural land within their boundaries.
  • Costs for development may increase on more difficult terrain (e.g., on Class 5 to 7 CLI lands), since the limitations to agricultural productivity also provide limitations to ease of construction for new urban development.